In response to discussions of a proposed citywide juvenile curfew ordinance, the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Parks and Recreation are collaborating with a goal of expanding an evening youth program known as "Stay and Play."
The Police Department is seeking to apply up to $280,000 to an expansion of youth services such as the Stay and Play program offered in city parks, money made available thanks to a state grant. The funding would enrich programming for youth at Stay and Play centers and cover administrative and overtime expenses for Police personnel.
Stay and Play, now available from 6 AM to 10 PM during school holiday breaks and until 11 PM seven days a week during the summer at nine city park locations, would extend its hours up to midnight during Spring Break and into Summer 2024 through this additional funding.
As part of this collaboration, Tampa Parks and Recreation is also committed to applying additional funding toward the expansion of Stay and Play.
“Extended hours for Stay and Play provides more opportunities for positive evening activities in a safe, fun, and healthy environment,” Parks and Recreation Director Tony Mulkey said. “We are dedicated to supporting the community through positive engagement of our youth.”
This initiative, as an alternative to the proposed citywide curfew, is part of a larger commitment by the City of Tampa to foster a supportive, dynamic community for all young residents. Additional youth services are offered through the City of Tampa, including the Tampa Police Department’s Police Athletic League, R.I.C.H. Houses, Bigs in Blue and Shielding Our Teens mentorship programs, and the Parks and Recreation youth league sports, after-school programs, and paid summer youth employment opportunities.
The decision to support a Stay and Play program extension comes after community discussions where the majority of respondents spoke out in support of additional services being offered to local youth rather than a citywide curfew. The Police Department hosted a "Town Hall Tuesday" forum in Ybor City on November 14, 2023, shortly after a deadly shooting involving juveniles on 7th Avenue. The City's Community Engagement & Partnership Department also hosted a Family Summit on January 16, 2024, and sought input through an online community survey.
“We’ve heard from our community, and there was an overwhelming response for additional resources dedicated toward keeping our children safe,” said Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw. “A renewed focus on parental responsibility combined with enhanced programs for children creates an opportunity to develop long-term solutions that best meet the needs of our families and the entire city.”
To learn more about the Stay and Play or other Parks & Recreation programs, visit https://www.tampa.gov/document/parks-and-recreation-fall-brochure
To view additional programs offered by the Tampa Police Department, visit https://www.tampa.gov/police/programs